Major of the Month: Henry Zurn
Hometown: Eden Prairie, MN
Why did you choose to major in English?
When I came to the University of Minnesota I knew I loved literature and reading, but I had no idea what I wanted to actually study. When I took Qadri Ismail’s Textual Analysis class in the fall of my freshman year, and it turned out to be the most challenging class I had ever taken, I was hooked. The English major has provided the opportunity for me to hone all of the skills I want out of my degree—critical thinking, research, writing—and has offered so many chances to take interesting classes along the way.
What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?
Easily the best part of my experience has been the opportunity to connect with professors and fellow students in small classes and across a huge variety of subjects. I’ve taken classes with professors from all over the world, and with fellow students with just as diverse backgrounds.
Are you pursuing any minors, internships, or fields of interest outside your English major?
I am pursuing a double major with Political Science and have done lots of work in politics and government over the last couple of years. I’m hoping to go to law school after undergrad, and I’d love to someday serve Minnesota in elected office. [Editor's note: He is currently helping to advocate for English's Pillsbury Hall renovation at the Minnesota legislature.] Through it all, my English major has equipped me to connect with people in a manner I simply would not be capable of otherwise.
What is something about the English department that most people wouldn’t know?
Just how versatile and valuable the degree it is. I’ve met so many great people around the Twin Cities in all sorts of professional capacities who swear by the value of their UMN English degrees. Not only is it impressive to see where people can go with their English degrees, but also it’s advantageous to have that automatic connection across professional communities.
What English course(s) would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?
On multiple occasions, I’ve signed up for English classes that sounded like they might be exciting, and I’ve had great experiences every time. For English majors, I really recommend 3002 Literary Theory and Criticism as a challenging course that covers more than the typical fiction literature. For non-majors, I recommend any of the historical surveys that sound interesting. I took 3151 Romantic Literature and Cultures and 3133 Stuart England Literature without much idea in either case what I was getting into. Both were excellent experiences.
What are your most stereotypical English major trait/behaviors?
I have at least one wool sweater with elbow pads. I have no idea what kind of real job I want after graduation. And, I’ll reluctantly admit to sometimes taking proper grammar a little too seriously.